Game of Thrones Season 4 In Review

Some people have cats. Some people have dragons. What of it.

Game of Thrones Season 4 in Review:

So, in case you missed it (and I don’t know why you would), a lot has happened Westeros this season.  After three seasons of seeing our favorites fall victim to the nefarious mechanisms in place by the powers that be, we finally see the pendulum slowly start to swing back in favor of the heroes, who through triumph and tragedy and not a few sword-fights begin to take control of their own fate. We also had the satisfaction of watching the end of certain villains who finally got what they long-had coming to them.

Sup fools, we're here posing casually on this beach even though many of these characters rarely, if ever, meet on the show

Overall, this season enjoyed improved pacing, less gratuitous plot exposition, and more acknowledging that if you’ve made it this far in the story you’re in it till the end so let’s get on with the sword-fighting and scheming, shall we? Some fans who have read the book have beef with the departure in straight-from-the-book plotting and pacing that this show has previously enjoyed. However, as someone who has not read the books, I have to say that I am sympathetic to the challenging task of having to shove an amazing amount of highly detailed plot into seven seasons, and I feel they’ve done a remarkable job in doing so, while managing to keep a good balance between the action and necessary plot developments. Whether or not that holds true for the next three seasons remains to be seen, but here’s hoping the high standards of this show carry through to the end.

Since I’ve praised the show, get ready for the inevitable criticism. Specifically, the completely unnecessary – and uncanon – rape scene in the third episode of the season that (correctly) caused a huge outcry of protest among fans. Not only was it out of character for the problematic but seemingly non-rapist Jamie Lannister, it added nothing to the plot, and was never discussed or referenced on the show again. Clearly the show runners/writers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss (and it’s worth noting the direct correlation between gratuitous sex and violence – and their often misogynistic tone – in Game of Thrones and episodes written by said show runners) got off on the idea of Cersei and Jamie having twincestual sex in front of the corpse of their dead son as a way to …entice new viewers? Be ~controversial/super gross?  Random titillation? (who gets off on that? Ew)…. and rape was the only way they could rationalize Cersei going along with it (since among her many faults, not loving her children isn’t one of them, and even she has her limits) and the entire thing is disturbing on many levels.  I would hope that D & D would have learned their lesson, but season five shall tell us. Besides being gross and sexist and gross, it is, at the very least, far beneath the very high standards of this show, and scenes like that one prevent Game of Thrones from enjoying an otherwise A-list ranking among the best of the best in the history of television.

With that out of the way, onto more of the good stuff – specifically Tyrion Lannister, masterfully played by the brilliant and all-the-awards-deserving Peter Dinklage. This has not been a good season for Tyrion, who found himself unfairly on trial for the satisfying and long-deserving murder of his tyrant nephew-king, Joffrey, the Justin Bieber of Westeros. Innocent of murder but guilty of basically existing in the eyes of his father Tywin Lannister and sister Cersei, he is subjected to a laughable excuse of a trial. Unable to take any more of the injustice he has faced his whole life, Tyrion has officially Had Enough and demands trial-by-combat which, unlike the time it got him out of a jam before, goes horribly awry as he and the viewers  must helplessly watch the sickening death (literally the worst bit of violence I’ve ever seen on TV, and I’m pretty desensitized. Go look it up yourself if you want to know the details) of everyone’s favorite character of the season, the righteous, hunky, sword-wielding, revenge-seeking, bisexual Oberyn Martell, who had volunteered to fight the psychotic “Mountain” (brother of The Hound)  in Tyrion’s place.

Tyrion eventually escapes imprisonment after murdering his traitorous ex-girlfriend Shae (which I still feel icky about, even though it was framed as quasi-self-defense. I want to like you, Tyrion!) and finally fulfilling the wishes of every fan since the beginning of this show by putting an arrow into the heart of his evil father Tywin. Subsequently packed away (literally, in a crate) on a ship to Essos, courtesy of the morally neutral (but we all want to wish secretly good guy) Lord Varys, an unknown fate awaits Tyrion in season five, but at least he still has his head (phew).  A Westeros sans Tywin and Joffrey can only be an upgrade, and one of the most intriguing aspects looking forward to season five is who will step up to fill the power vacuum left by the deaths of the two most powerful and wholly obnoxious Lannisters.

Still better than your fav

Better than your fav

The only story line that could begin to be on par with that of Tyrion was watching the orphaned Stark children finally begin to come into their own. In no other character was this more satisfying than watch than Sansa Stark. No longer content to be a powerless pawn in the chess game of others, we see her true strength – using her intelligence to adapt to her surroundings and learn from those around her – used not as just a means of survival, but as a way to manipulate the players to her own device.  In this instance, using her ability to out-scheme those around her  in order to save her dubious ally the squicky Littlefinger from conviction (and probable moon-door execution) of the murder of her crazy-ass Aunt Lysa, to whom she was shipped off to in the Erie after she and her husband Tyrion were suspects in Joffrey’s murder. What is fabulous about Sansa is that instead of using the very horrific circumstances of her situation as a reason to feel sorry for herself or let herself fall victim to the schemes of others, she rises up against it and continues not just survive, but ultimately thrive. If you can’t at least respect that, and Sansa Stark as a character, I honestly have no time for you and probably don’t even want to know you as a person.

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